How did that happen? I started writing this blog March of 2012. This realization prompted me to reminisce about how I got started with this ‘blogging’ thing… I remember when we were in the research process of our big relocation, Scott was our main researcher. He is sooooooo good at searching online and finding all sorts of information. He found reading forums to be one of his favorite means of finding interesting and relevant information. He found many such expat forums online, including “Panama Laws for expats” “Panama expats” “Expats in David” and lots of other forums in other countries we were also, at that time, researching. I was never especially fond of forums because they have a tendency to , at times, be a little argumentative and petty. to put it nicely…Yuck! So I discovered Blogs! And I fell in love with reading these peoples personal stories of expatriating to countless different places around the world. Reading blogs just felt so much more personal which is right up my isle! I just love reading stories about peoples lives and that’s exactly what blogs are. I remember when this online “blogging “ thing first started. I never really understood what it meant to ‘blog’…kinda like public journaling? Huh? Why would anyone want to put all that personal information out there for the whole world to read? Who cares anyways? Hah!
Well, it turns out, reading blogs is really great! I especially love the way that you can send private messages to the bloggers. And they almost always got back to me. This created a kind of connection which I find very appealing . I like nothing more than to get to know people and find some way to connect. This is one of the aspects of my job that I always found the most rewarding. After spending a ton of time reading and following these blogger expats I remember thinking to myself…”hey, I could do this!”. As much as I was enjoying reading all these blogs there was just something missing from all I was reading. It seemed like most bloggers got started ‘after’ they made their move to their new country. I didn’t find any blogs that started ‘before’ they left for their big adventure. I was so curious about the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ of the process of expatriating . But most of the blogs I was reading began after they had moved to their new country. So, I thought I would give it a try and begin ‘before’ my move.
I’ve learned so much about blogging since I dove in. One thing I’ve come to realize is just how therapeutic my blog has been for me. I often begin writing and as the words flow onto the computer screen I feel myself often sorting through or processing certain difficult aspects of my new life. And then the comments start to pour in….I love my readers so much! I get an amazing amount of support and every time I publish a post I look forward to what comments will arrive. But of course there are some hard things about blogging that aren’t always so enjoyable but that have really helped me to learn a lot! Its often hard to know just how much you don’t know until you start to learn some things the hard way. Like, for instance, some people don’t want to be talked about or included in any way in my blog! Whodathunk? It just never occurred to me when I was a new blogger, that some people are very private and have no interest in being in such a public forum for all to see. I learned this one the hard way with some very good friends who I published photos of on my blog without asking their permission first. Boy, was I blown away that I had been so clueless! From this terrible mistake I learned really fast how to edit a post and I immediately took out any mention of them and also removed any photos I had included in my blog of them. I felt terrible. And apologized profusely for my lack of consideration. Still, when I think about that I feel so shocked at my total ignorance about other peoples privacy. Of course not everyone wants to be out there for all the world to see! Sheeesh Holly! :0 Thank goodness they were really good friends who know me well and understood my lack of knowledge about all things tech! ….And then there’s the lesson I learned about being very careful when I publish information as ‘fact’. There’s always someone out there who wants to make sure to point out just how ‘wrong’ you are! So, I try really hard these days to only publish things that I know for sure are facts, it’s usually best to stick with my own personal experiences. And then there’s the mean people out there who hide behind their computers and send ugly, mean comments about a post. Yikes! I was verbally attacked once by a really mean , negative person who just shocked me by her anger at a post I published. I learned how to block people like that. And I learned that I have a lot of really protective blogging friends and readers out there who stood up for me and reassured me that I had not published anything that warranted the negativity. They told me that they too had experienced similar things in their past and that I should just let it go and develop a thick skin. And that brings me to the friendships I’ve formed through blogging.
Probably one of the aspects of blogging that has been the most pleasant surprise and the most rewarding is the many great friends I’ve made from blogging! Some of the first people I met when I moved to Panamá have been other bloggers. My friends Valerie and Mark, Kris & Joel, Emma, Karen, Debbie,Cindy, Allison,Andrea….so many amazing friendships have come out of blogging. Many of these people I began chatting with through my blog before I even moved and have since met nearly all of them. With the exception of Debbie who lives in Nicaragua, but we occasionally chat online and feel like we already know each other. I gotta get out there one of these days. We bloggers have a natural connection from our shared experiences and desires to share our stories. I never expected to meet so many interesting people just from writing a blog. Not only other bloggers either…I get the opportunity to meet with many of my readers when they come visit Boquete. We love to’ Pay it forward’ with others who are on a similar journey to find their new Adventure. When we were looking around and visiting different locations we met so many wonderful people who had gone before us and made the leap to live abroad. Every expat we met made us feel so welcomed and shared unending amounts of really important information with us about life here . So we really like doing the same thing whenever we can. And we end up making so many great friends from meeting up with my blog followers. It’s been another surprising outcome of sharing my story.
One big discovery I made from writing a blog is that I really LOVE writing! I’m not exceptionally good at writing, I’m not a ‘writer’ after all , but I sure do enjoy expressing myself in the written word. I’ve always been a fan of reading and find that authors are my superheros! I’ve never been one to be star-struck by celebrities but on the rare occasion that I’ve gotten to meet an Author who I like..oh my goodness! I suddenly become star struck! I’m incredibly impressed by people who have the ability to touch others with their talent for words. So when I have the time to just sit and write for hours on end I’ve had a good day. Time just flies by so fast when I’m writing and writing a blog is so fun because , like I said, all the feedback you get from the readers, its just great! I love the comments! Its so fun to hear peoples opinions of what I’ve shared and to know what others think of a post I publish. Well…at least it’s fun when they’re nice! hah! One guy told me he wanted his wasted time back after having read one of my blog posts! Hah! Pffffffft! That one made me chuckle! He actually took the time to let me know how boring my post was and how he wished he hadn’t wasted his time reading it…eye roll! As though someone tied him down and forced him to READ!!! People can be funny! You really do put yourself out there in a pretty vulnerable place by publishing your words online. It sometimes takes courage to share your experiences the way that we do as bloggers. But, like anything worth doing, you just gotta take the good with the bad.
One of the main reasons in the very beginning that I decided to start sharing my story in the form of a blog was to maintain some small connection to all my friends and family in California. In the beginning it was also my way of helping everyone understand why we were setting out on this crazy new life in Panama and leaving them all behind. I was able to share our decision process, tell all about all the research we did and explain what prompted our decision in the first place. I think it was a big help for us and made our move seem a little less of a crazy decision when all our friends could have a peak into our heads. I get lots of wonderful feedback from many of my friends back home. The only bummer is that it’s such a one sided connection. They all know in great detail just what we’re up to, but I don’t really get to know who is keeping up with us and what all of them are up to. That, I must say , is the part of blogging that is the hardest. The fact that it’s so darn one-sided. But, thats the way it goes, can’t change that. It’s not like all my friends and family are going to sit down and write me my own personal blogs about whats going on in their lives! Hah!
There’s is a huge world of bloggers out there these days. People who, like me have found some kind of satisfaction in sharing their lives. My story isnt so terribly unique or exciting , but it’s mine. I’m really surprised to realize that this is my 500th post! Since beginning to publish this blog I’ve learned so much about myself and about writing in general. I plan to continue to write and to share my experiences of living in Panama and starting a new life with my husband. But, at times I’m finding that I don’t always have as much to write about as I did in the beginning. I’ve said this before and its very true, our life has begun to fall into a rhythm that doesn’t always feel so exciting or even sometimes worth writing about. But it seems, every time I publish a post, no matter how ‘boring’ it may seem to me, some kind person sends me a comment letting me know that they appreciate something I’ve shared. So, oftentimes that keeps me motivated to write more. Who knows how long I’ll continue to write and to share my life. But, for now writing is something I’m finding endless enjoyment from , so I’ll just see if I get to 1000 posts!! Hah!